Quarterback is considered the most important position in the NFL today. In most cases, if you don’t have a quarterback who is at least good, it is difficult to reach the playoffs or to advance in them if you do.
With that in mind, here is a look at the quarterback position for each of the four teams in the NFC North Division. Teams are ranked based on their starters and backups with the emphasis on the stater. Obviously, any of these teams could draft a quarterback next month but it is doubtful that any of these picks would become the starter right away.
- Chicago Bears
Bears fans feel disappointed that after all the rumors that they would acquire Seattle’s Russell Wilson in a blockbuster trade, the deal never took place. The Seahawks have yet to trade their franchise quarterback despite his reported unhappiness with the situation there.
Instead, the Bears went out and signed veteran Andy Dalton. The 33-year-old former TCU star started nine games for the Cowboys last season and won four of them.
At this stage of his career, Dalton is a below average starting quarterback. He completed 64.9 percent of his passes last season while throwing for 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His quarterback rating in 2020 was 87.3, a respectable but not outstanding number.
Dalton made the Pro Bowl three times in his career although the last time was after the 2016 season. He also led the Bengals to the playoffs four times although Dalton has never won a playoff game and has thrown only one touchdown pass while throwing six interceptions in the postseason.
Right now, Dalton is a quarterback you can win with but he will rarely be the reason your team wins. He is at best a top quality backup but a replaceable starter.
Behind Dalton is Nick Foles. Foles has a Super Bowl victory on his resume, but it inconsistent under center. Like Dalton, he would be one of the best backups in the league but lacks the outstanding arm strength and consistency necessary to be more than an above average starter. It is still possible the Bears move on from Foles before the seasons starts depending on what they do in the draft.
- Detroit Lions
The Lions traded longtime starter Matthew Stafford to the Rams and acquired Jared Goff from Los Angeles in the deal.
Goff made the Pro Bowl after the 2017 and 2018 seasons and the former first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft seemed on his way to an outstanding career. But in the two seasons since then, Goff has come back to earth.
The 26-year-old Cal alum threw only 20 touchdown passes in 2020 and had a quarterback rating of 90.0. His yards per attempt dropped from 12.9 during his Pro Bowl seasons 10.7 last season and he had a well-publicized falling out with head coach Sean McVay.
So, the key question now is will the Lions coaching staff get Goff back to his previous form? If they can, the Lions have a younger quarterback who has led his team to the postseason three times in five seasons including a trip to the Super Bowl after the 2018 campaign.
Behind Goff is former Packers backup Tim Boyle who signed as a free agent earlier this month. Boyle has yet to see significant regular season action but the Packers coaching staff was pleased with the progress he made in practice and in training camp. Boyle is considered one of the better backups in the NFL although he is unproven.
- Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings will stick with Kirk Cousins at quarterback in 2021. The former Michigan State star has been remarkably consistent. Cousins’ quarterback rating has been 93.9 or higher every season since 2015 including a 105.0 rating in 2020.
Cousins has good arm strength and threw 35 touchdowns against just 13 interceptions last season. The ironic thing is despite putting up solid statistics throughout his career, Cousins record as a starter is 51-51-2 including a 25-21-1 mark over the last three seasons with Minnesota.
Cousins is a quality but not outstanding quarterback who is more than capable of taking a team to the playoffs. His record in playoff games over the course of his career is 1-3.
No other player threw a pass for the Vikings in 2020 and their backup situation is unsettled at this time. Jake Browning and Nate Stanley are the only two quarterbacks on the roster after Cousins and neither has thrown a pass in the NFL. If Cousins were to get hurt, the Vikings would be in big trouble.
- Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers was the league MVP in 2020 and had one of the best seasons of his Hall of Fame career. A-Rod threw for a league-leading 48 touchdown passes while tossing only five interceptions. His quarterback rating was 121.5 and he led the Packers to the NFC Championship Game for the second consecutive season.
At 37, Rodgers may start to slow down soon, but last year, he seemed completely comfortable in Matt LaFleur’s offense and did a great job of finding the open receiver and not holding on to the ball for too long which he was doing more often in the previous two seasons.
Rodgers remains one of the top three quarterbacks in the NFL and gives the Packers a chance to win nearly every game he starts.
Behind Rodgers is last year’s first round pick Jordan Love. Scouts indicated Love would need time before he was ready to start in the NFL and he wasn’t even active for any of the Packers games last season. If Rodgers were to get hurt, the Packers have a lot of question marks behind him.
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